Nasser Nasser/AP
Egyptian supporters chant slogans and carry posters with pictures of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in front of his ransacked campaign headquarters in Cairo, Tuesday, May 29.

Egypt presidential candidate: Ahmed Shafiq, former Mubarak man

Supporters see in Ahmed Shafiq a former military man who can restore stability after a chaotic 18 months. But others charge their revolution could end with a Mubarak man becoming president.

In just a year and a half, Ahmed Shafiq went from a sacked prime minister tainted by his association with ousted leader Hosni Mubarak to a final contender in Egypt's first post-revolution presidential election.

After winning nearly 24 percent of the votes in the first round of the election, he advanced to a June runoff against Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammad Morsi.

His swift comeback shocked many in Egypt. It likely owes much to the deterioration of security in Egypt since the uprising that displaced Mr. Mubarak, and Shafiq’s background in the military and image as a strongman capable of bringing Egypt back under control.

Shafiq, like Mubarak before him, came into politics by way of the Air Force. He graduated from Egypt’s Air Force Academy in 1961, and fought in Egypt’s wars with Israel in subsequent years. His campaign recently claimed that during the “War of Attrition” with Israel between 1967 and 1970, he shot down two Israeli planes. He rose through the ranks to become commander of the Air Force. According to an official biography, he has a master’s degree in “military sciences” and a PhD in the “national strategy of outer space,” though it is not specified from which institution.

Mubarak appointed Shafiq minister of civil aviation in 2002, tasking him with turning around the ailing national airline. He also oversaw renovations and additions to Cairo’s airport.

In the waning years of Mubarak’s regime, his name was sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to the aging president. In January 2011, days after massive protests against Mubarak began, the embattled president appointed Shafiq prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle. He retained that post less than a month; the military formed an interim ruling council after Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11, 2011.

Shafiq came back into the spotlight after Islamist parties won more than two-thirds of parliament seats, and he draws support from some who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties. Shafiq has also talked tough about protests, vowing to end them, and has pledged to “restore order” to Egypt within hours of being elected. That position garners favor with those who believe protests are a main cause of Egypt’s instability, a view often put forward by state media. In the past, he has been open about his closeness to Mubarak, saying as recently as April that he admired the former president.

Some voters say his no-nonsense image is appealing at a time when Egypt is plagued by instability. They say the next president needs a strong hand to restore security.

“The most important thing is that he has a military background, which makes him capable to manage the country during this period. Security is the No. 1 concern,” said Adel Shehata, who voted for Shafiq in the Cairo district of Imbaba. He also cited Shafiq’s history as a veteran and his role in building the airport as proof of his strength and management skills.

Others voiced confidence that he was a dependable choice. “We know this man, we know his history, and we know what he’s going to do,” said Amal Khamis Mahmoud, a government employee who lives in Imbaba.

While Shafiq campaigns on stability, however, his win might bring the opposite. Many in Egypt ardently oppose him for his connection to the old regime and his stance on the uprising. When the elections commission announced he made it into the runoff, a small band of protesters set fire to his campaign headquarters; his total victory would likely cause far larger demonstrations.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Egypt presidential candidate: Ahmed Shafiq, former Mubarak man
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today